18 July 2022
The core purpose of the Foundation is to enable and guide the contribution of the walker community in supporting the management, maintenance and marketing of the Track (you can read more about our purpose from this perspective in a previous article in our members’ magazine Bibbulmun News, Issue #83, page 18.).
We achieve this support as a formal partner of DBCA, with the relationship and division of responsibility articulated in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). As identified in the MOU, we are solely responsible for being the primary public contact point and the community driver, providing for community engagement, events, and merchandise and guidebooks.
DBCA is solely responsible for being the land and track manager, providing visitor risk management, public liability, managing track conditions and diversions, and maps.
Both organisations share the responsibility for funding, marketing and promotion, track improvement and maintenance.
The contribution of all our wonderful volunteers fulfils our core purpose. To illustrate this, let’s consider each volunteer role in turn – from that most clearly associated with the Foundation alone, to the work which is more interrelated with DBCA management.
A small group of volunteers (seven at any one time) fulfil a critical role in ensuring sound strategic management and financial stability of the Foundation by serving as elected members of our Board. The Board meets every two months to discuss current issues relating to the management of the Foundation and the Track. They provide strategic direction, decision making and advisory functions.
We also have a few volunteers who participate in specific projects by way of serving on committees. At the moment there are two such groups – one developing our reconciliation and indigenous interpretation materials; the other planning the 25th anniversary celebrations.
Next, our events program, which is designed to encourage a wider use of the Track by people of all ages, socio-economic groups, and fitness levels. All events are led by one or more of our volunteer guides, who donate their time, knowledge, and energy to optimising the experience for participants. There are currently 20 guides in the program, each working at three or more events each year.
In the office, so many different things happen that a summary is difficult! Of the myriad tasks performed by our office volunteers, many help the Foundation provide the services for which it is solely responsible. These include handling walker enquiries, merchandise sales and orders, equipment hire, trip planning and managing directory listings for the Calendar of Events. Other important tasks performed by the office volunteers include general admin, processing memberships, stock control, accounts book-keeping, copy writing and editing. Meanwhile, our office volunteers also contribute to the areas of work which we share with DBCA – map sales, processing and following up maintenance reports, processing NOIs for groups on the Track, managing campsite logbooks, marketing and promotion, and volunteer management. We have at least two volunteers in every day and currently have 14 general office volunteers.
The marketing and promotion of the Track is another key function that we share with DBCA. Volunteers assist to promote the Track as widely as possible, provide information to prospective walkers, publicise our Calendar of Events, manage our social media presence, support the engagement of the tourism industry, run member events, and share the work of the Foundation with the walking community. These tasks are completed by roles of community events, brochure distribution or specialist office volunteer. Numbers vary; we currently have about 35 people distributing brochures and four office volunteers dedicated to marketing.
Both the Foundation and DBCA use the analysis of campsite usage records to support strategic planning and resourcing decisions, and for funding applications. The data comes from the green logbooks and is transferred to the digital format by a dedicated group of data entry volunteers, who work at home. We currently have nearly 40 data entry volunteers. Several more people check digital track counters once a month and provide the numbers directly to DBCA’s Recreation and Trails Unit.
As the Track Manager, DBCA has the ultimate responsibility for the route, infrastructure and maintenance of the Track and campsites. Our role is in coordinating the volunteers who carry out the routine inspections and baseline maintenance and, in recent years, specific projects as resources permit.
Our sectional maintenance volunteers – currently numbering around 360 – have always been at the core of our maintenance contribution. The Track is divided into around 150 maintenance sections that vary in length depending on access points; most are around 5 to 10 kilometres long. About one third of all sections include a campsite. Volunteers adopt a section of the Track and are trained to look after it. Each section is maintained by a team that may consist of one person working on their own, or a group of friends, family or workmates who work together. Their place in reporting issues which need follow up is especially important. Sectional volunteers can develop a real sense of ownership of their section and spend many years caring for it.
Over the last few years, we’ve expanded our maintenance contribution beyond the sectional program. The team known as the support volunteers (SVs) was established in 2014 and has been involved helping sectional volunteers with tasks, assisting at Field Days, constructing realignments, and some impressive repair and upgrade projects. This role is now being further expanded and redefined to provide a broader range of support to the sectional maintenance program. Although there are nearly 50 SVs now, many of whom are also sectional volunteers, we expect to increase the number working in this role in the near future.
Whatever their contribution – big or small – every single volunteer is valued for their role in the work we do to support the Track. We thank them all!